Louis Leterrier’s Unleashed

The rumour mill recently informed me that Jet Li is going through some rough health issues lately, so let’s send loving thoughts his way and take a look back it one of his best, Louis Leterrier’s Unleashed, aka Danny The Dog. Scripted by Luc Besson, this is a gruesomely entertaining fight club style action gong show set in Glasgow’s shady underground, co-starring the late Bob Hoskins as Bart, a maniacal mobster with a serious god complex. Li is Danny, the orphan he has raised basically as a dog and transformed into a vicious killing machine who does his bidding. Bart straps a metallic collar on him that keeps him docile, but when he needs someone taken care of, that collar comes and fuck… better hope you’re nowhere within Danny’s vicinity because he basically lays waste to anything that moves. The film is chock full of absolutely breathless, tooth and nail action sequences with a washed out, desaturated visual flourish that’s edgy and menacing. Eventually Danny runs away, then the film takes a softer tone when he’s given shelter and companionship from a blind piano tuner (Morgan Freeman hiding behind Stevie Wonder shades) and his daughter (Kerry Condon), this is where his dormant humanity is awakened and he’s essentially given both something to live for and stakes to finally stand up to Bart’s cruelty. Hoskins goes for broke and plays it like a dog more than Li does really, snarling and setting ferocious Danny on anyone who looks at him wrong. The Glasgow criminal underworld has a snazzy, stylish way about it here, each new adversary Danny goes up against seems to have leapt in from a comic book and the fights are detailed, elaborate and grisly as all hell. The film is strongest when Li breaks out the choreography and takes on hordes of monstrous thugs, while getting to show off his subtler, softer side in between. I hear he’s going to appear in the new live action remake of Mulan next year, it will be nice to see him on the big screen again and I wish him easy recovery from whatever he is dealing with.

-Nate Hill

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